In this article, the six benefits of a warm (not hot) bath:
|01 // Reduce Stress and Anxiety||04 // Soften Skin|
|02 // Prep For Sleep||05 // Improve Circulation and Detoxify|
|03 // Improve Breathing and Boost Immunity||06 // Soothe Muscle Pain|
Whether you’re sore from working out or stressed from the day’s events, immersing yourself in a warm bath can help ease your aches, melt away your troubles, and help you fall asleep. The trick is not only to make time, but also to mentally claim that time for self-care.
For nearly a year in my twenties, I took a bath every night. It was an evening ritual that I couldn’t do without. It never occurred to me that it might be a waste of time or I could be working or doing something more productive.
As I got older, work got busy, life got stressful, and bath time all but ceased. Ironically, when I needed baths the most, I found I couldn’t mentally make space for them. That is, until I read an interview with psychologist Dr. Devon Price, author of Laziness Does Not Exist.
“Wasting time is a necessary part of life.”
The idea is that you don’t have to work so hard to prove your value. Constant productivity will not make you whole. Life has intrinsic value, and “wasting time is a necessary part of life.” We need time away from work, and yes, even from Netflix, to recover from the day’s events and rebalance. Not to become more productive, but to simply enjoy life.
Once you give yourself permission to take this time, there are few things more luxurious than a bath. Soaking does so much more than rejuvenate, though; hot baths also help sore muscles, clear the lungs and soften skin.
Here are six reasons why a warm bath should be part of your evening routine.
01 // Reduce Stress and Anxiety
If you’re someone who deals with stress or anxiety on a regular basis, we highly recommend taking time out for yourself to relax in a warm bath.
A study showed that baths improve mental and social health and happiness by lowering stress, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility and depression-dejection.
After two weeks of bathing for even just 10 minutes daily, people showed signs of less fatigue, stress, pain, and more happiness.
A separate study showed that hyperthermic baths* can have antidepressant effects and are a good add-on to standard depression care.
*Hyperthermic baths are 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Farenheit. This is the recommended temperature and what we refer to throughout this article as a "warm" bath.
02 // Prep For Sleep
Pre-sleep rituals are so important because they signal the end of the day and help us prepare our minds for a good night’s rest. While taking a bath may initially seem like work (especially if the tub needs cleaning), the act of setting up – lighting candles, drawing water, adding scented salts, and finally, immersing yourself – becomes a ritual to look forward to at day’s end.
Adding relaxing salts, such as those containing lavender, ylang ylang or sandalwood oils, to the bath can do wonders to clear your mind of any busy, worrisome thoughts and deepen your relaxation.
If you tend to run hot, make sure you bathe a few hours before bed, so your body temperature has time to come back down for better sleep.
03 // Improve Breathing and Boost Immunity
The steam from a bath adds warmth and moisture to the air, which thins and helps loosen mucus inside the airwarys and lungs. It also relaxes throat muscles, while reducing soreness and inflammation.
Steam therapy can help ease discomfort from colds, flus, sinus infections, bronchitis, nasal allergies, headaches, stuffy (congested) noses, throat irritation, dry or irritated nasal passages and coughs.
Adding a bath soak blend with eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary essential oils, can further deepen breathing. Studies have shown that essential oils of eucalyptus and frankincense are strong immunostimulants that can help support immunity.
04 // Soften Skin
The best ways to soften skin through bathing is to maintain a lower water temperature and to add bathsalts, preferably those containing plant-based carrier oils (like sunflower or Abyssinian seed oil).
Bathsalts help to soften and re-mineralize skin, making salts great for people with dry or damaged skin. Additional oils moisturize and help lock in hydration.
Finally, bathsalt blends with essential oils like mandarin, jasmine and frankincense offer extra skin softening benefits.
Be sure to bathe in warm – not hot – water for best results. Bathing (or showering) in hot water can lead to red, irritated or dry skin and in some cases, even eczema. Our intolerance to hot water seems to increase with age.
05 // Improve Circulation and Detoxify
The biggest physical benefit of immersion bathing is vasodilation brought on by hyperthermic action. A warm bath will widen blood vessels, which increases blood pressure and raises oxygen levels in your system. This in turn delivers more nutrients throughout your body and increases elimination of carbon dioxide and metabolic waste materials. Purging metabolic waste, or detoxifying, can help reduce muscle soreness and cellulite.
Caution: this vasodilation is also what makes baths potentially dangerous for the elderly or those with blood pressure issues. If this is you, consult with your doctor before starting or getting back into a bathing routine.
06 // Soothe Muscle Pain
Baths can be effective in relaxing tense, fatigued muscles after an intense workout. As mentioned above, warm water increases blood pressure and oxygen levels, which can help clear out metabolic wastes and ease sore muscles.
Adding diluted essential oils like chamomile, eucalyptus and sweet marjoram can also help alleviate muscle soreness. These are all part of our Recover bath soak blend, which features magnesium flakes to relax muscles, and a small amount of comfrey root powder to help lower inflammation.
There’s also the stiffness that comes from not exercising. For example, your hips may be stiff from sitting in a chair all day. Your neck and shoulders may be tight from hunching over your computer. Getting into a warm bath is a great first step towards loosening up those muscles. You can follow up with gentle sleep-inducing stretches before you crawl into the sheets.
It’s often hard to schedule or even justify self-care. But the hectic pace of our lives is exactly why we should be setting time aside to relax and do nothing, other than to soak, breathe deeply and detox. Given that baths can ease stress, anxiety and muscle stiffness, in addition to improving circulation and sleep quality, it’s important to view bathing as an essential part of self-care.